Current Occupation: Whatever they pay me for in the theater, plus some after-school science instruction; they don’t pay me enough.
Former Occupation: Tour guide, bookstore clerk, library shelver, house painter, political canvasser, fine arts camp counselor
Contact Information: Alex was born in Juneau, Alaska. He graduated from Reed College in Portland, Oregon with a theater degree and went to Los Angeles to point lights at stages. Then he went to Chicago and helped create underground performance spaces. Now back in Portland, he’s trying to create a new revolution of world-around humanist love-thought. He is happy to work for pay.
BLACKOUT. Lights up, revealing EMANUEL doing some type of desk work. The stage is arranged linearly, with door frame, then desk, then empty darkness. EBENEEZER bustles in.
EBENEEZER: She’s coming. Get your nametag.
EMANUEL: She’s coming? I hear a man failed last night.
EBENEEZER: He did.
EMANUEL: So soon.
EBENEEZER: Very soon. Get your nametag.
EMANUEL: And a woman failed the night before?
EBENEEZER: People have been failing all over the place. Do you know–
EVANGELINE enters. The effect is similar to Queen Elizabeth I.
EMANUEL (looking past him): She’s here.
EBENEEZER: She is, indeed. We have an evaluation.
EVANGELINE: Do you remember where the nametags are?
EMANUEL: In the pool of light.
and indeed they are. where before it was dark there are two, one reading “EMANUEL” and one reading “EZEKIEL”
EBENEEZER: Well? Go and get it.
EMANUEL goes to the pool, but stands hesitantly
EBENEEZER (to EVANGELINE): I hadn’t heard we were up for inspection. pause. I had been told specifically that we would not be up for inspection. pause. I was promised that I would be told before—
EVANGELINE: Who promised you?
EBENEEZER: Of course, we are always happy to accommodate all inspections. turns to EMANUEL. Get your nametag. Are you waiting for it to come to you? Go and get your nametag.
EMANUEL stares blankly at the two tags. Eventually, EVANGELINE makes a gesture to ESTEFAN, who makes a mark on his clipboard.
EVANGELINE: He has failed the first part. The second part of the evaluation is now beginning, and will last for two minutes.
EBENEEZER: He’s failed nothing! He’s simply nervous, because there was no warning and no reason to expect anything. If he were just given a little more time, there’d have no trouble!
EVANGELINE: You are encouraged to help him in the second part.
EBENEEZER: Could we just have a moment alone?
EVANGELINE: You have two minutes. There are many moments possible in two minutes. pause. Of course,
EBENEEZER: No! pause. I . . .
EVANGELINE: If you have also.
EBENEEZER: I haven’t. He hasn’t. (to EMANUEL, confidently) You haven’t, have you?
EVANGELINE: A forfeit can be arranged.
EBENEEZER: It won’t. He doesn’t need it, he hasn’t forgotten anything, he is the picture of confidence. He wants only a moment alone.
EVANGELINE: You are not helping him.
EBENEEZER: He doesn’t need it!
EBENEEZER: What? Is something the matter? Is there a matter here? Pick up your nametag!
EBENEEZER: Hut! (to EVANGELINE) I am, of course, happy, to have an opportunity to show you what
EVANGELINE talking over: You are almost out of time
EBENEEZER: a tight ship we run here, without any problems, and no forgetting of
EBENEEZER: –anything, not even the location of our backup pencil-sharpener, much less the nametags that we keep in perfect order that we may give them to each other.
He gives the “EMANUEL” tag to EMANUEL, and keeps the “EZEKIEL” tag for himself. EVANGELINE completes her gesture; ESTEFAN makes a tick mark.
EVANGELINE: Unfortunately, you have failed.
EVANGELINE: Your new name is Alfonse, and your subordinate is now named Alfredo. Please submit the appropriate paperwork to the correct office.
EVANGELINE leaves with ESTEFAN in tow
EMANUEL: So this is what failure feels like.
EBENEEZER: A robbery, is what it is. You’ll get better at it.
EMANUEL (honestly): Some comfort, that.
EBENEEZER: I suppose. I was promised, too. Rock-solid and with words exchanged. Goes to show what trust gets you. I was about to come up for an application to an assistantship to an under-secretary, too.
EBENEEZER: Trust them to do the worse, and that’s the only trust you’ll get.
EMANUEL: Does anything change?
EBENEEZER: There’s the paperwork.
EMANUEL: Pity, that.
EBENEEZER: Teach you not to trust, anyway.
EMANUEL: Why do we have a back-up pencil sharpener?
EBENEEZER: In the event that a change is made and official documents must be filled out in pencil, there’s a possibility that the primary pencil sharpener might fail.
EMANUEL: Where’s it stored?
EBENEEZER: In the storage cabinets.
EMANUEL: I really did want to succeed.
EBENEEZER: Most do.
EBENEEZER: Less paperwork.
EMANUEL: Makes sense.
ESTEFAN enters: all business
ESTEFAN: Failures needing forms in triplicate be advised that offices receiving forms close 2 hours before shifts end. Leave is not granted for failures to turn in forms. Failures must make their own arrangements.
EBENEEZER: Just leave the forms.
ESTEFAN: Failures are further advised that forms must be filled out in black ink and black ink only from pens purchased by failures for personal use. Any ink that was not purchased for failures from failure’s personal funds requires submission of ink exception forms to the division supervisor. Ink exception forms can be filled out with officially-purposed ink and may be obtained from the division supervisor’s secretary following successful personal interviews. Appointments for interviews must be scheduled in person with the district supervisor’s secretary. Have a nice day.
EMANUEL: Do you have a pen?
EMANUEL: (at the desk). I think all of these are officially-purposed. When are the forms due?
EMANUEL: Do you have a pen in your office?
EBENEEZER: They’re all officially-purposed, too.
EMANUEL: Pity. pause. I do have a small rock stuck in the treads of my shoe. If we pressed hard, the carbon copies would probably be legible.
EBENEEZER: Has this rock been there long?
EMANUEL: A while. It made walking very interesting. I’d rather it stayed in, but . . .
EBENEEZER: Looks at EMANUEL, then at the door, then at EMANUEL, then thinks. Let me see it.
They extricate and examine the rock. ESTEFAN re-appears
ESTEFAN: Failures considering filling out forms with non-standardized pigment are reminded that non-officially-purposed black ink is the only accepted pigment for form filling out. Failures are further cautioned that conspiracy to utilize non-standardized pigment on official forms is a violation requiring corrective mediation with the district supervisor and his or her secretary. (to EBENEEZER) Second-time offenders are additionally correctively mediated by the division supervisor and an explosive collar is implanted in their neck.
EBENEEZER: In the neck?
ESTEFAN: Explosive-collar mediated failures are advised to avoid radio-transmission towers and refrain from microwaving food. Have a nice day.
EMANUEL: I suppose it could hurt, then.
EMANUEL: You’ve done this before?
EBENEEZER: It was a pencil, then.
EMANUEL: Wouldn’t that fade?
EBENEEZER: Yes. But that was only the start of my troubles.
EMANUEL: Do you still have it? beat. I’ve always been curious.
EBENEEZER: It doesn’t matter! We need a pen.
EMANUEL: Pity. Is there anyplace to buy one?
EBENEEZER: You have money?
EMANUEL: No, but, one hopes.
EBENEEZER: One gets correctively mediated, is what one does. And then one goes, and works hard, and does one’s very best, and at the end of all that is the same old hole only a little bit deeper.
EMANUEL: I’ll check for any pens I might have forgotten.
he begins checking the same places
EBENEEZER: Good idea.
pause. while EMANUEL is checking.
EMANUEL: I’d really rather be gone and done with it and just be one of those animals that do everything for life, that mate with the same partner and live in the same hole and die with a smile on their lips. I would be very good at it, I think, with an entirely adequate burrow or nest that I’d make better every year, and a fur or shell or something that would get impossibly intricate as I stayed in that burrow, and a mate that I would never conceive of leaving. I think that security, that routine, that knowledge that the world was big and I was small and that when I died men would look at my burrow and my pelt and know that here was something that had lived a long life and done it well. Or someone would hunt me, perhaps, with traps and snares and patient stake-outs, because the simple fact that I had lived had made me beautiful, and the longer I did it the more beautiful I would become. I would try to escape those people, of course, because that would make me a legend, but when I was finally caught I would only lie down and smile a legendary smile and not have to worry. I would like that very much, I really think I would.
EMANUEL looks up
EMANUEL: I found one.